We have all seen the anger and divisiveness of the current political atmosphere in the US. The cause is irrelevant for the moment, but there is no denying it. I and many others have lost old friendships over it – in some cases, friendships that had survived decades and many challenges. From my friends and acquaintances on Facebook I frequently see pleas for moderation and tolerance of other opinions. I respect those friends, and value their tenderness that is so distressed about the climate of hostility and hate. Would that all were so tender and concerned!
However, I find myself in a quandary. There are two main themes of political expression: individualism and individual rights (capitalism), and government control of our lives for the purpose of protecting us from our own foolishness and incompetence (statism, in one of many semantic subcategories.) I have friends and loved one on both sides of the conflict, but I will keep this letter focused on my own thoughts.
It is my opinion that the philosophy of the Left, as personified in Barack Obama, is that of statism. Whether it is socialism, communism, fascism, or progressivism matters not; they all have in common control of the individual human being by others, almost always the government. I hold this philosophy to be evil. Not just bad or wrong, but evil. Man was created (or evolved – in this discussion it doesn’t matter) as an individual being, composed of a physical body and a rational mind. I believe that the God who created us did that on purpose, and that His intent was that we should act as individuals, using our minds to direct the actions of our bodies. I believe that anything that interferes with Man’s exercise of his rationality, whether by intellectual or physical controls, denies the nature of Man and forces him to live as something else. In other words, it dehumanizes Man, destroying the sentient being he was meant to be. The destruction of a sentient being is called murder.
It is the position of the individual rights advocates that the statists would commit this form of murder on the wealthy, the capable, the independent, the virtuous. While I hold with latter on this, there is a very simple way to distinguish between the two ideals – a way that is based solely on their demonstrated behavior.
The statists say, “We will protect you as long as you remain in subhuman squalor and servile to us, but the moment you rise above your present state, or resist our omniscience, we will dehumanize and destroy you.”
The individualists say, “We will protect you as long as you do your best to improve your state, and the more successful you are, the more we will edify you. If you refuse to do your best, and instead demand that we give you an unearned portion of our sustenance, you are on your own, and have no claim on us.”
Statists maintain power in the electorate by maintaining and enlarging the poor population. Individualists maintain power in the electorate by providing opportunity for self-improvement and encouraging others to take advantage of that opportunity.
My life has been devoted to the protection of our republic which was founded on and prospered by the principles of individualism. (That some were left out us undeniable, but it is equally so that many of those are now included. This inclusion was accomplished by application of the founding principles, i.e. free people exercising their agency and changing certain paradigms of who ought to be included. The process has certainly not been instantaneous, but it continues, and our republic is better for it.) The modes of statism are utter anathema to me. They threaten and destroy all that I hold precious, from my own freedom to eat what a please and go where I please, to spend my own money as I please, to the safety and happiness of my children and grandchildren. This issue is literally one of life or death to me.
On the one hand, I see a political and moral philosophy that demands we live as God made us. On the other, I see a political and moral philosophy that eviscerates and cannibalizes the beings that God made.
On the one hand, I see a life of struggle, growth, and accomplishment, on a path lit by my love for my family and my own dreams. On the other hand, I see a life of struggle, squalor, and defeat on a path obscured the lust of others for power over me.
Now here is my question: If a friend campaigns for all those things that I hold evil and horrid, how can I smile, shake his hand, and say, “It’s okay with me that you participated in the immolation of my children?” In fact, how can I expect him to shake my hand and say the same to me? If his choice threatens my existence, so mine must threaten his, and does it not seem the height of hypocrisy to say, “These things I value above all else, but it’s okay with me if you destroy them?”
I have no desire to wage war against anyone, especially old friends, but I cannot see any other way through this conflict. I will try to convince them and change their thinking and will allow them to do the same, but in the end, if neither of us will change, one of us must kill the other.
How am I to resolve this? We have but three choices in dealing with one another: we can reason with each other until one is convinced the other is correct, one of us can unconditionally surrender to principles we think are evil, or we can fight. There are no other choices. I see no hope for the first, though I pledge to keep at it. I can never accept the second and presume others feel the same. That leaves fighting, and long before a blow is struck, those old and precious friendships must die.
Is there another way? Am I missing something?
20 Sept., 2012